Minnesota Rubber and Plastics, www.mnrubber.com

Clutch assemblies for off-highway equipment take a beating, so vehicle designers are always looking for products that improve reliability and reduce operating costs. Engineers at Minneapolis-based Minnesota Rubber and Plastics found that converting key clutch components from thermoset plastic to PEEK (polyetheretherketone) increased durability, reduced friction, and extended operating life.

Each clutch contains three control-switch buttons. As torque changes, the buttons slide up and down an incline inside the clutch, activating a disc that changes the clutch’s gear ratio. This alternating motion during vehicle operation puts substantial stress on the clutch and its components, particularly the sliding switch buttons. In fact, the small buttons carry the clutch’s full torque load.

The change to PEEK makes the buttons stronger, more durable, and able to withstand higher temperatures, compared to the previous design. They also operate with less friction, letting the clutch change gear ratios more efficiently. In addition, the PEEK components absorb little or no moisture, so the buttons retain their shape even if the clutch gets wet. They also won’t corrode and maintain close tolerances for reliable performance.

© 2011 Penton Media, Inc.